When my youngest daughter was about 9 months old, I enrolled the 2 of us in Gymboree. I wanted time with her alone and this seemed like a good option.
The first session, we sat in a circle and talked about how challenging being a parent was and how easy it was to lose our identity when faced with the 24/7 demands of parenting.
“What’s something you do to retain your ‘identity’ outside of being a parent,” the facilitator asked each of us as she went around the circle.
It was a good question, except, by the time she got to me, I was vibrating at too high a level because of what I deemed the ridiculous way she framed her lead-in to the question. As in, rather than use each person’s name, she started the question with…
“So, [Insert baby’s name} mother/father, what’s something you do to retain your identity outside of being your child’s mother/father?”
I admit, I probably could have framed my response a little more gently, but I had a point to make and after listening to her ask the question of about 10 people before me, I wanted to get my point across. So, I began my response with, “Well… the first thing I do is make sure people use my first name, Louise, rather than calling me “Liseanne’s mother.”
I know. Not gracious. Not kind.
So, here’s the deal. I believe I had a right to my position. However, I did not have the right to be rude. And in infusing my response with my flippant and sarcastic ‘attitude-driven’ nature, I veered from the underpinning value I want to use to light up my own North Star — to BE KIND.
To dare to follow my own North Star is to always be true to my values. And kindness is a value I cherish.
I value walking in my integrity. Speaking truth to build bridges, not tear apart the hearts and minds of others.
I value treating everyone with respect and doing no harm.
I value doing things to create better. Being fair and above all, I value walking with Loving-Kindness as my guiding light.
Sure, I got my point across that day, but in the making of it, I became the problem. That woman leading the group and I never did forge a strong relationship – to the detriment of my young child and the very reason I joined the group — to spend quality time with her amongst children of a similar age and other parents. I eventually left the group because I never did feel like I fit in — all because being ‘clever’ superseded my need to be understanding and kind (it was our first gathering and she had a lot of names to remember – I could have given her a break or at least a kinder response). In my need to be clever, I acted out with little regard to the woman, which means, in the end, I carried ‘the shame’ of my bad behaviour within me – which led me to leave.
And while I’d love to go back and apologize to that woman, I have no idea who she was. To make amends, I see to find value in the many lessons my bad behaviour taught me.
- When I think I’m being clever and am coming from that place where the chip on my shoulder is digging a hole in my values, it’s time to take a step back and give myself a reality check.
- Being right doesn’t make me or anyone else happy when my being right supersedes being kind.
- Daring to follow my own North Star doesn’t give me the right to be a problem for everyone else. it does give me the right to always create my own path, as long as my path is built on Loving-Kindness of myself and everyone around me.
Do you have a memory of something in the past that taught you an invaluable life lesson you still breathe into today?
I’d love to hear your stories!
I’ve posted my She Dares Boldly 2022 desk calendar on my Etsy store.
You can check it out and order it HERE... (and for those ordering from outside Canada — Etsy’s shipping fees are out of whack — the only thing I can do to fix it at this point is to refund some of the shipping after you pay it — my apologies. It’s really weird!)